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2013 Feline health grants available for sponsorship

Earlier this year, Winn announced the funding of 9 new feline health research projects for a total of over $176,000. Each year, the Winn Feline Foundation receives proposals from veterinary researchers around the world who are interested in improving feline health. To date, Winn’s cumulative total in feline health research funding exceeds $4 million.

Winn is seeking donations of $250 and up to sponsor specific projects. Sponsors will receive progress reports as they are available and copies of any publications that result from the project that are provided by the investigators. Your help in sponsoring these projects means Winn can fund even more research next year.

W13-020 : In vivo efficacy study of virus protease inhibitors against feline coronaviruses in a mouse model; $19,920
Yunjeong Kim; Kansas State University

Despite the importance of FIP as the leading infectious cause of death in young cats, there is no specific treatment approved for FIP. Therefore, it is highly desirable to develop antiviral drugs for FIP to prolong the length and quality of life for cats affected by this devastating disease. The feline coronavirus uses protease enzymes for virus replication. These researchers recently discovered novel inhibitors against the feline coronavirus 3CL protease, and these inhibitors potently inhibited the replication of feline coronaviruses in cells. The goal of this project is to test the antiviral activity of protease inhibitors in a mouse model.

W13-029 : Phenotypic characterization of feline cardiomyopathy in Norwegian Forest cats using echocardiography, plasma biomarkers and histopathology; $23,577
Virginia Luis Fuentes; Royal Veterinary College, University of London

Norwegian Forest cats (NFC) are at risk of an inherited form of heart muscle disease (NFC cardiomyopathy) that can result in heart failure and early death in young cats. The diagnosis can be confirmed by necropsy. Mild thickening of heart muscle may be present in less severely affected cats despite an outwardly healthy appearance. The disease usually goes undetected without special diagnostic tests, as most affected cats are normal on a physical exam. An ultrasound exam of the heart (echocardiogram) is the standard test used, but must be carried out by trained, experienced cardiologists for accurate results, thus limiting the availability of this test. Preliminary studies suggest that even for trained cardiologists, NFC cardiomyopathy may be particularly difficult to identify with a heart ultrasound test in the early stages. New blood tests (biomarkers) are showing promise as a means of identifying early heart disease in cats, and could be particularly useful in NFC cardiomyopathy. This study will compare the results of a heart ultrasound with the newer blood tests (‘NT-proBNP’ and ‘hsTnI’) as a means of identifying cats with NFC cardiomyopathy. DNA samples will also be stored from each screened cat to be used in genetic studies looking for the inherited mutation responsible for NFC cardiomyopathy. Identifying the underlying genetic mutation could lead to a blood test or even cheek swab test for identifying cats with NFC cardiomyopathy, thus making it easier for breeders to exclude affected cats from the breeding population.

W13-012 : Detection of dermatophytosis in cats by PCR; $10,670
Stephen Kania, PhD and Linda Frank, MS, DVM, DACVD; University of Tennessee

Ringworm is a condition affecting cats that is caused by a fungal infection. Humans and pets can acquire ringworm from infected cats. Shelter cats are at high risk and should be screened before being introduced to other pets. The current method of testing, fungal culture, may take weeks to provide a definitive answer. This study involves the development of molecular techniques to provide rapid diagnosis so cats can be effectively treated, thus reducing the threat of owners and other pets contracting ringworm.